The most common way to ask How are you? in Vietnamese is:
As an example, let’s imagine that John meets his senior Vietnamese colleague called Thảo. In order to ask How are you? to Thảo, John would say: Chị (có) khỏe không?. The word có is totally optional and is usually ommitted in both spoken and written language. John uses the word chị to address Thảo not only because Thảo is his senior colleague, but also because in business settings, it’s polite to refer to your colleague using the word for a senior person when the age difference is small. To review how to use the correct word for you and recommendations for business settings, consult the lessons on how to say Pronouns: I, You, etc.
The word khỏe means fine and the word không is a word added to the end to convert the sentence to a question. Hence, the literal meaning of the question: Chị khỏe không? is Are you fine?. An alternative word to không, although less common, is the word chứ. Usually, when chứ is used, we’ll repeat [the word for You] at the end as well. As such, in our example John would say: Chị khỏe chứ chị?
There is another lesson common way to ask How are you? in Vietnamese that is even in translation to the English question:
[The word for You] + thế nào?
In our example situation, John would then ask, using the second way of asking: Hôm nay, chị thế nào? The phrase thế nào is the Vietnamese equivalent of the English word how. Please take note that in Vietnamese, it would be really uncommon just to ask Chị thế nào? without a time phrase in front, as Chị thế nào? is a generic question about how, and not a set phrase to refer to only health.
In this section, we’ll learn how to say the standard answer flow to the question How are you?: I’m fine. Thank you. And you?
Thank you = Cám ơn + [The word for You]
And you? = Còn + [The word for you]?
A small note is that to say thank you, you can just say cám ơn. But if you know the proper word to address the other person, it’s preferred to add in that word. Consult the lesson on how to say thank you in Vietnamese for more details.
The way to say And you? in Vietnamese in Còn + [The word for you]?. Note that còn is not the Vietnamese translation of and!; it is synonymous to the English word about. As such the Vietnamese translation of And you? in this situation is actually the literal translation of About you?
Putting everything together, below is the dialogue between John and his senior colleague Thảo
John: Chào chị, hôm này chị khỏe không?
Thảo: Mình khỏe, còn anh?
John: Tôi cũng (also) khỏe. Cảm ơn chị.
If you pay close enough attention, you would see that Thảo didn’t actually say Thank you in her answer. This way of reply is actually quite common in Vietnamese culture and is still considered as polite (enough).
Before we end, below are the Vietnamese equivalents of the English answers to the how-are-you question:
I’m fine: Tôi khỏe.
Very good: Rất khỏe/tốt.
I’m so so: Tàm tạm.
Not very good: Không khỏe lắm.
Very bad: Rất tệ.
Very tired: Rất mệt.
- The 3 most common ways to say How are you? in Vietnamese:
[The word for You] + khỏe không?
[The word for You] + khoẻ chứ + [The word for You]?
[A time phrase, such as hôm nay (today)] + [The word for You] + thế nào?
- To say And you? in Vietnamese: Còn + [The word for You]?
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